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Pathways Through Our Past

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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Vera Hass

One Saturday while working at the Blackduck History and Art Center I came across this wonderful book about Vera Hass, transcribed from notes taken by Debbie Kruger as she listened to Vera tell about her life since 1906. To see so many changes in this country and in teaching the many students who passed through the door of her class room.

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How does someone who started life so small at her parents farm rise to become so important to hundreds of young minds. Vera (Hass) Olson came into this world weighting in at just four pounds, blanket and all. Her parents thought they had done something wrong to have such a small baby and on top of that there was no record of her birth for many years as the township records were destroyed in a fire that same year.

But despite starting out so small Vera grew and as years went by was joined by three sisters and four brothers. One sister passed away as an infant and one brother at about four years old.

She could remember when her parents were given a mattress from her mothers father. Very few people had real mattresses in those days. Vera's mother had sewed flour and feed sacks together and stuffed them with straw for on the girls bed and one for the boys just like it.

Three girls in a bed was not unusual, nor the story about Vera's mother sewing her a "panty" and when Vera tried it on right across the front were the words "Pillsbury's Best." She asked her mother how they would get the words out and was told that they would wear off.

Her sister, Viola, and a friend each got a box of Cracker Jacks, the ones that had a prize in them. Viola's a small horse and the friends had a ring with a red glass stone in it.

Well, Viola asked her friend if she might wear it home to show her mother and dad. Forgetting that it was her turn to fluff the straw mattress. You had to open the ticking and reach in and mix up the straw so that it didn't lay so flat. She started out with that beautiful ring on her hand but when she finished it was no longer wearing it. Mother said she must find and return it because that's what happens when you barrow things.

Well, Viola had to take all the straw out of that mattress, piece by piece until at the very bottom, was the ring and then replace the straw and sew up the ticking.

Vera's dad played the violin and her mother played on a cord organ. Someone came and asked him to play at a dance and when he refused, asked if he would barrow it to a woman who knew how to play it. As the story goes he allowed the violin to leave his home and when the instrument was placed on a chair during a break in the dance a heavy set woman sat on it, cracking it from one end to the other never to be played again.

I'll tell you more next week but first I want to tell all of you about a need that has arisen at the Blackduck History and Art Center. We are in need of volunteers to help set up displays, visit with guests and in short help in any way you can. It's a great place to work in and the people who come through the door have so much tell you about their history or are looking for information on a relative, etc.

So just stop anyone of us and say -- "Here I am, ready to help" and we would thank you from the bottom of our heart.

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